Mayor of Superior, Wisconsin, takes to Facebook to call President Obama a Muslim

Welcome back from Christmas break, everyone!  Here’s how we’ll be starting the social media day.

Bruce Hagen is the Mayor of Superior, Wisconsin (population about 27,000).  Hagen, in response to a picture of First Lady Michelle Obama, wrote the following on Facebook:

“Unbelievable! She and her Muslim partner have destroyed the fabric of democracy that was so very hard fought for!”

Ahh, so we’re going with the “Obama is a Muslim” meme again, I see.  That’s lovely.

Needless to say, the city’s residents and other elected officials were not amused.  Five City Councilors called for Mayor Hagen to resign in the wake of his remarks, with Councilors calling the remarks “inappropriate.”  Mayor Hagen, for his part, refuses to resign, saying: “Am I gonna resign? Absolutely not. If the people of this community feel otherwise, they will vote me out of office.”

The standard response of Hagen’s remarks, from defenders, is probably something along the lines of “Free speech!”  They are right, of course – to a point.  The Mayor is, unquestionably, entitled to say whatever he wants (within certain broad limits) without fear of government repercussions.  But here’s the thing: Free speech doesn’t mean freedom from the consequences of your speech, and elected officials are, as I’ve said a thousand times, held to a higher standard for the content of their remarks.  Indeed, this was best elucidated by City Councilor Graham Garfield, who said, “”Sure he’s entitled to free speech.  But elected officials are held accountable for stupid things they do and say.”

Tweets and Consequences

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Grant Nichols Facebook

Another school board member in trouble over anti-Muslim comments

Yesterday, I wrote about a school board member in Virginia who had shared an anti-Muslim meme.  Well, today, I have to write about ANOTHER school board member – this one in Minnesota, who took to Facebook to disparage, of all things, Muslim bathroom habits…….?

See the comment below from Grant Nichols, a school board member in Columbia Heights, Minnesota:

Grant Nichols Facebook

What?  Just…what?  That’s a stereotype I’ve never heard.

When the comment went public, Nichols denied that he wrote it, saying that he suspected someone at his office had access to his phone and used it to make the comment. However, another school board member has said that Nicholas told him that he had, in fact, written the post.

Unsurprisingly, students in Columbia Heights were ticked, and walked out of classes for 45 minutes to protest the statements.  There are, of course, calls for Nichols to resign, including from the Council on American Islamic Relations and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton.  After the comments were made, the Governor visited the school.  Meanwhile, a vote to remove or censure Nichols fell short by one vote.

Two things.  First is the obvious: the comment was deeply offensive and should never have been said.  Second, for the sake of argument, let’s take Nichols at his word, and say that the comment wasn’t made by him.  I think the argument is ridiculous…what, someone grabbed his phone for the sole purpose of making an anti-Islamic Facebook comment?  But, okay, let’s say that this is, in fact, what happened.  If that’s the case, this is a great reason about why everyone needs to have a password on their phones.  I’ll also add that many Government bodies require a phone be password protected in order to use that device to access government Email, and this example shows exactly why such policies are necessary.

Christie New Craig

School board chair: Why do Muslims come to America?

Christie New Craig is the chairwoman of the Chesapake School Board in Virginia.  She has made it into this blog because of this moronic Facebook share:

Christie New Craig Facebook

Nothing says “We welcome all religions” like a Facebook share like this, huh?  Oh, and by the way, since when do Muslims hate dogs or freedom of speech?  Since when do Muslims hate any of the things listed above?  What in God’s name was this woman thinking?

Obviously, a backlash ensued.  New Craig told a local paper:

“I merely shared it. I did not make a comment, and I’m just shocked with everything going on in our country – police officers are losing their lives, people are homeless and people don’t have jobs – that a political cartoon would cause this much stir.”

As this blog has documented countless times, “merely sharing” a Facebook post isn’t a thing.  If you share a post – unless you explicitly state that you are sharing it for other reasons – people are going to assume, correctly, that the post you share is a specific endorsement of your views.  That is exactly what happened here.

This incident occurred at the same time that Ahmed Mohamed, a teen who built a clock that was mistaken for a bomb, resulting in the student’s arrest and some pretty obvious allegations of Islamophobia. So really, the timing couldn’t have been worse.

The Chesapake School Board released a statement which tried to put as much distance between Craig’s statement as possible: “This post has had no effect on our commitment to maintaining equal opportunity and nondiscrimination standards.”

Remember, what you share will be assumed to be yours.  I suspect Craig knew that already.

N.C. State Representative, via shared meme: President is “Islamic son of a b***h”

In the latest example of why you have to be very, very careful with what kind of content you share, North Carolina State Representative Michael Speciale is making national news for sharing this meme:

Michael Speciale Obama Meme

Yes, that’s right, an elected official actually shared a meme which called the President of the United States an “Islamic son of a b****h.”

Damnit.

WCNT, a North Carolina news station, tried to get a comment from Representative Special, but, “he wouldn’t make a comment about his social media post.”  So, the Representative is willing to make the incredibly offensive post, but not back it up.  Okay, that’s really super.

Hilariously enough, he is sharing news stories about the post:

So this guy is just all class.

Of course, Representative Speciale is appealing to the many Republicans who believe that President Obama is, in fact, a Muslim – a recent survey showed that 54% of Republicans believe the President is Islamic, not Christian.

Will Representative Speciale pay a political price for this?  I’m guessing not.  He won both of his elections with almost 60% of the vote, which would tell me that his district is safely Republican.  That being said, he makes all elected officials – particularly those who share his point of view – look like offensive morons.  This is one of the many reasons why so many in the public have a hard time taking elected officials seriously.  It’s a shame.

Tweets and Consequences

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Texas Agriculture Commissioner: Let’s nuke the Muslims!

Sid Miller is the Agriculture Commissioner of Texas, an elected position which seeks “to promote production agriculture, consumer protection, economic development and healthy living.”  Commissioner Miller has made national news for this Facebook post:

Sid Miller Facebook

Can someone explain the logistics behind nuking an entire religion?

Sigh.  Just…damnit.  Anyway, the “standard” response is an apology.  That, apparently, will not be coming from Commissioner Miller:

Miller spokesman Todd Smith said Monday the commissioner didn’t personally share the post but won’t begin a “witch hunt” to find who on his staff did. Smith said he doesn’t personally condone the message but noted the positive comments it generated.

By the way, Commissioner Miller has previously said that his fears of America becoming a Muslim country kept him up at night.  So, there’s that.

Interestingly, this is a case of Miller’s right hand and left hand not communicating well.  While his campaign staff didn’t condemn the post, his official office did, with Miller’s special assistant saying that the post didn’t actually come from Miller.  She also added that the posting, “did not reflect the views of Commissioner Miller and as a result it’s been removed” while calling it “inappropriate.”

Naturally, the Texas Democratic Party attacked Miller, a Republican, for the post:

“It is unacceptable for Republican Sid Miller to be promoting such disgusting rhetoric. Sadly, this kind of racist, xenophobic hate speech qualifies you for higher office with Republicans’ Tea Party fringe base.”

I literally cannot even fathom what would posses a statewide elected official to imply that nuking an entire country is okay.  It is a deplorable statement about the state of public affairs in this country that such rhetoric is even remotely acceptable.  Can we all agree that implying the nuclear destruction of an entire religion is not okay?  Please???

Ed Gore

New Jersey Councilman uses Facebook to attack “Muslim scum”

It never fails: A tragedy occurs, and either the victim or the perpetrator is a member of a racial or religious minority.  Someone then makes broad generalizations about the entire race to which the victims or perpetrators belong.

Today’s fail comes to us via Ed Gore, a Councilman in Hamilton, New Jersey.  Councilman Gore, like millions of Americans, was deeply disturbed by the recent murder of five military men in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  The murders were allegedly committed by Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez.

Councilman Gore then discussed the incident on Facebook in terms that were, shall we say…uhh, extremely stupid:

Ed Gore Facebook post

Yeah, that “Muslim Scum” comment isn’t helping anything.

Gore apologized for the remarks, though it was the standard half-apology: “Certainly I don’t mean all Muslims are scum. If I offended any Muslims, I am sorry. I would certainly hope all Muslims would join me in condemning the murder of innocent Americans anywhere in the world…I am not some type of anti-Muslim kook. I wish I would have clarified it more and am sorry if I offended anybody. I want to let people know it was the emotion of the time. You think with your head and not with your heart.”

Gore also posted an apology…kind of…on Facebook:

Councilman Gore’s remarks were, naturally, also condemned by other Council members, one of whom called the remarks a “shame” and “disappointing.”  His remarks were also condemned by the Islamic Council of Greater Trenton.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Gore is not a racist, and just made these posts because he was emotional.  That goes back to the classic rule: take a breath, and think before you post.

Tweets and Consequences

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Cleveland Cop Frank Woyna Racist

Cleveland Police Officer accused of racism, via Twitter

Unfortunately, we have another entry in the area of law enforcement officers who use social media for inappropriate, horrendous reasons.

As noted by Cleveland.com, a recently promoted Sargent, Frank Woyma, has apparently sent out a series of incredibly racist and anti-Muslim tweets.  These include, but are not limited to:

ClevelandCop2jpg ClevelandCop1jpg

The Council of American-Islamic Relations, for obvious reasons, complained about the content of Sergant Woyma’s Twitter account, saying in a press release:

“While Sergeant Woyma is re-tweeting racist and anti-Muslim materials on a private account, his clearly bigoted views can only serve to cast a negative light on the Cleveland Division of Police and harm relations with the community he is supposed to serve and protect.”

Cleveland’s Police Department does have a social media policy which requires content be avoided, “that reasonably tend to diminish the esteem of the Division of Police or its personnel in the eyes of the public.”

I’m pretty sure turning back the “Muslim hoardes” would qualify there.

By the way, Wyoma’s Twitter account has since been deleted.

In terms of moving forward, no formal complaint has been filed against Woyma (yet), but the Department’s Office of Professional Standards is now investigating Woyma.

Unfortunately, regardless of the training or policy, as long as the world is made up of humans, this type of content will always be retweeted by the last person who should ever send it out.  It’s unfortunate, but it’s a reality of the human condition.

Tweets and Consequences

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